Skip to main content

Who are they?

Learn & CoLearn & Co
40 Furness Road

Tel: 0203 488 6832
Email: [email protected]

We have met with Learn and Co staff. In addition, 20 clients and 20 tutors have completed an on-line survey (sent to 43 clients and 35 tutors) and we have followed this up with additional short phone interviews with some of those surveyed.

Learn & Co staff

The young and trendy team (with website pics to prove it) of 10 had doubled in size in the month alone that it took us to review this agency – business can’t be bad. ‘It’s true, although we don’t ever want to be so big that we lose our personal touch,’ insists Maria Toubbe, who founded the agency in 2014 as a way of bringing together her love of languages (‘I come from a multicultural family’) and connecting with young people (‘I was a camp leader in France for 10 years’). Both Maria’s parents are teachers and although she too loves teaching (or in her case, tutoring), she always had a dream of running her own business. Fluent in five languages – French, English, Spanish, Italian and German - she’s certainly well placed to run this niche language agency.

Tutors appreciate the small company feel. ‘It’s really hands on, with great communications,’ said one. ‘If I ever have any issues, I just call or email them and they are really responsive – I don’t bother working for other agencies because of it,’ said another. Parents also talk of ‘Maria’s personal attention’ and ‘bespoke’ service. ‘Very flexible and a little less formal than other agencies, which I like,’ said one parent. Covid permitting, the team works in an East London office that’s been converted from flats.

Maria – who has a BA and MA in modern languages and business, plus an MA in diplomacy and strategic negotiations, all from La Sorbonne Paris – lives between Fulham, Lisbon and Paris. Judging from her typical 7am to 11pm working day, she’s something of a workaholic though still finds time for playing the violin and piano, as well as martial arts and reading – ‘mainly fictional, historic and feminist.’ ‘Amazing,’ is how most parents describe her; ‘quite a force of nature,’ felt one.

What do they offer?

Language tuition is the raison d'être of this company, with tutees comprising an even split of children and adults. German, Spanish, English and French are the main languages taught, with Chinese, Italian and Portuguese increasingly popular, while smaller numbers opt for Arabic and Russian. They’re still worth a punt if you have your eye on another language too as they love a challenge and are happy to headhunt – for instance, a number of London-based Russian parents have recently approached them to get their offspring up to scratch on their native language. Their work with children mainly consists of GCSE and A level/IB preparation, with a few Common Entrance and scholarship students, plus some younger ones (age 7 minimum). Adults come to them either as corporate clients (business development training which can include one-to-one expert coaching sessions) or individuals wanting to learn or brush up on a language for personal development.

Parents rate the company highly, with many evidencing their claims. ‘My daughter got grade 7 after being predicted grade 3.’ ‘My son was ready to give it up and finally decided to continue languages up to A level and finished with an A* - I think that says it all!’ ‘Maria charges a high rate, but it was definitely worth it for the confidence she gave my daughter, which led her to persevere with French, achieve an A* and eventually get accepted to Oxford.’ ‘My child is not a natural linguist and was struggling with the French oral part of her GCSE work – Maria gave her so much confidence that she scored a 9!’

For face-to-face tutoring they cover North, East and West London, with online tutoring (which started taking off in 2017) spanning Greater London and beyond, although they don’t (perhaps surprisingly) do masses overseas, with the exception of Hong Kong and Singapore which is a growth area for them.

Easter revision courses for A level German and French available, and they’re in the process of launching books (beginners, intermediates and advanced) in French, German and Spanish. Some of their students are home schooled but there’s no SEN provision – yet, anyway (watch this space, says the company).

No residentials – in the sense of accompanying your child on holiday - either, but they have started a school exchange programme for 10-16 year-olds for schools, companies and individuals in four countries: France, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Strong links with heads of MFL in both independent and state schools across London mean this is an agency that often comes recommended by teachers.

Background and basics

A growing (but not too fast, insists Maria) company, now with 35 tutors who worked with 48 families in the 12 months leading up to our review. All are native level English speakers educated to degree level or beyond, with at least two years’ online tutoring or teaching experience. As always, we selected some parents at random to follow up on their questionnaire responses and found that almost all had used Maria herself (and we had to work hard to find others that hadn’t), though Maria says she only provides a tenth of all tutoring and plans to do even less in the future.

So how does Maria find her tutors? Largely through the company website (occasionally with pleas for new recruits), but mainly as a result of Maria being on constant lookout for who’s top of their game in the world of language teaching – ‘It’s my favourite bit of the job as I’d rather have five really great Spanish teachers than 10 who are okay.’ Those whose CVs and cover letters she likes the look of get a face-to-face (or online during Covid) interview where Maria looks for evidence of them not just knowing the language inside out but really enjoying language teaching because ‘we’re not just about getting people through exams but expanding minds and installing a love of language.’ A trial lesson ensures ‘they can teach and cope with challenges when they arise. I ask them, how would you explain this? What if a student does that? Etc.’

The ability to motivate students is a key priority for Maria, as is having a patient, supportive and engaging approach, good time management and organisational skills, working well under pressure and being good humoured. Enhanced DBS required, and two references are followed up. We liked how (unusually for a tutor agency, even post-Covid) Maria talked about taking some tutors on specifically for online or face-to-face work, rather than both – ‘It doesn’t follow that all tutors are good at both.’

Matching is efficient – in most cases the client is presented with two or three tutors to pick from on the same day, though more unusual requests can take longer. ‘I’m recommending Maria’s services to everyone I know who needs a language tutor because she’s amazing at understanding what people need and matching students with the perfect tutor – and she’ll always find the time to talk over the phone to help wherever she can,’ said a parent, one of many who also praised the regular feedback they get about their child’s lessons.

‘We couldn’t be more happy,’ said another. ‘She was able to pair my son with the perfect tutor.’ ‘She understood my son and his needs and he looks forward to his lessons,’ felt one. ‘She was super organised and efficient and knew how to connect with him and make learning fun.’ Though one parent warned, ‘Perhaps not always the most punctual, but that’s London I guess.’

Tutors get training in areas such as safeguarding, and all are invited to an annual meeting (online for now) where they can share their successes and challenges. ‘We talk about the industry best practices, discuss client feedback and share resources.’ All tutors are offered annual appraisals ‘and based on that they re-evaluate our fees, which feels more than fair,’ according to one tutor, with another one telling us, ‘This company focuses on student needs and understands that treating tutors well is part of that.’

Learn & Co currently does no charity work – they’re too small, says Maria, but she hopes to partner with school associations in Africa, South America in the future ‘because languages are a key factor for social mobility.’ Working with underprivileged families in the UK is also on the cards. Learn & Co is a corporate member of The Tutors Association.

Money and small print

No registration fee, but T&Cs signed by both clients and tutors. Fees range from £65-250 per hour based on the complexity of the assignment, number of tutees (they offer small group sessions) and the tutor’s experience. ‘At the expensive end, but worth it,’ reckoned one client who uses multiple tutor agencies. ‘It was expensive, but I was asking for a small miracle and Maria delivered that,’ said another. All fees include travel. Invoices are sent out at the end of the month. We don’t like it when tutor agencies don’t answer our question about tutors’ rates, but our ‘transparency, please!’ prompt led Maria to explain that the range is between £35-200 per hour. There’s a 48-hour cancellation policy, though illness will usually trump that (‘unless they’re ill every week!’).

Learn & Co say

‘We think our young team of tutors can relate and speak directly to our students. Every student is so very different. Some need nurture and balanced encouragement, some need to be pushed and challenged to find their full potential. That is this careful balance that I believe all our tutors strive for. It is the driving force behind the results we achieve.’


This young, enthusiastic and growing team is an excellent port of call for language tuition. Even with reluctant teenagers, who aren’t the easiest to connect with, they seem to get them to look forward to their lessons and achieving superb results. ‘She pushed my son hard but he enjoyed the lessons, so it was a win win!’ summed up one parent.

Most popular Good Schools Guide articles

  • Special educational needs introduction

    Need help? Perhaps you suspect your child has some learning difficulty and you would like advice on what you should do. Or perhaps it is becoming clear that your child's current school is not working for him or her, and you need help to find a mainstream school which has better SEN provision, or to find a special school which will best cater for your child's area of need. Our SEN consultancy team advises on both special schools, and the mainstream schools with good SEN support, from reception through to the specialist colleges for 19+. Special Educational Needs Index

  • The Good Schools Guide International

    Find top international, British, IB and American schools in over 40 countries. The Good Schools Guide International publishes impartial and forthright reviews of international schools across the world.

  • Grammar schools best value added

    We examined the value-added from KS2 to GCSE for 2022 to see which state selective grammar schools added the most value to their offspring. A note of caution - the more highly selective a grammar school, the less scope there will be to add value.

  • Grammar schools in the UK

    Grammar schools are state-funded, academically selective senior schools. The education a child receives at grammar school is paid for by the state unlike at private schools which provide education for a fee. There are currently around 163 located in 36 English local authorities, with around 167,000 pupils between them. Northern Ireland has a further 67 grammar schools, but there are none in Wales or Scotland. A word of caution: there are private schools that have the word 'grammar' in their name but this is purely for historical reasons. 

  • Music, drama and dance at Performing Arts schools

    At specialist music, dance or performing arts schools, the arts aren't optional extras. They’re intrinsic to the school curriculum. Students are expected to fit in high level training and hours of practice alongside a full academic provision. It's a lot to ask any child to take on, but for those with exceptional performing ability this kind of education can be transformative.

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

☑ 30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
☑ Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
☑ Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,200 schools
☑ Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

Buy Now

GSG Blog >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.


Our most recent newsletter: